What if you could help mitigate climate change, while saving money for your business? Think about your organisation: How do your staff travel to work? Do you always turn the lights off when they’re not required? What temperature is the thermostat set? How much waste is produced and how is it managed?
These, and many other factors, all contribute to the carbon footprint of an organisation. To find out more, and how GSH can help you to save your organisation money, read on…
What is a carbon footprint?
The total amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions released into the atmosphere as a direct or indirect result of the activities of an individual, organisation or community. It is measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e).
Why should my organisation measure our carbon footprint?
Your organisation may be mandated to report energy consumption and carbon emissions depending on your location, number of employees, turnover and ownership structure (further details are available here for the UK and United States). Even if it is not a legal requirement, measuring your carbon footprint helps identify methods of reducing consumption (and therefore costs). In addition, it can improve the reputation of your organisation and form part of your sustainability and CSR policies.
Why is it important?
CO2 accounts for approximately two-thirds of GHGs found in the atmosphere, primarily through the burning of fossil fuels. The average global temperature directly correlates to the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere, meaning that if levels of CO2 continue to rise at the current rate there will be an expected global temperature increase of 1.5OC (2.7OF) . This temperature increase will have a huge impact on the global climate: affecting sea levels, health, food production, water supply and all ecosystems.
What impact can you have?
GHGs are produced by a range of sources: Figures 1 and 2 highlights CO2 emissions produced per sector in the UK and United States. If all businesses and organisations were to measure, and then reduce their carbon footprint this would make a huge contribution to mitigating the effects of climate change. From an organisational viewpoint, measuring your carbon footprint will ascertain current consumption and allow you to address any inefficiencies, as well as identifying methods to lower your direct energy costs: and which businesses don’t want to save money?
From Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (2019) .
From United States Environmental Protection Agency (2019) .
How can you measure the carbon footprint of your organisation?
Various methods can be used depending on the size and intricacies of your business; however, all require clear boundaries to be established to identify what emissions will be measured. The most common method of measuring a carbon footprint is the GHG Protocol, which categorises emissions into three scopes:
- Scope 1 – direct emissions from sources owned or controlled by your organisation such as emissions from combustion of fuels in equipment and vehicles
- Scope 2 – indirect emissions from purchased and consumed sources such as electricity, heat, cooling and steam
- Scope 3 – indirect emissions generated from the activities of your organisation including employee commuting and business travel, food consumption, waste disposal and purchased goods and services
Once your boundary has been established the next stage is data collection. It is vital that the data used is accurate, consistent and transparent, with a clear auditable trail. Most organisations select a ‘base year’ and gather data from this period, establishing a datum carbon footprint from which targets can be set and progress in reducing emissions measured. Data is usually gathered from various sources such as energy bills, meter readings, Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS), fuel cards and vehicle trackers.
Emissions factors are applied to convert all values into carbon emissions, with the cumulative value of all Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions being your carbon footprint. GSH can assist you with data collection and calculating your carbon footprint.
How can this save my organisation money?
Once your carbon footprint has been measured you have a baseline from which to begin analysing the data. Sources of the highest emissions can be identified and addressed; common strategies include reducing energy demand, increasing efficiency and increasing electrification of energy demand. A variety of methods can be used:
- changing source of heating
- lowering the thermostat
- using timers to only heat rooms when necessary
- installing LED lighting
- using motion sensors/timers;
- turning lights off when not required
- maximising natural lighting
- carpooling and lift sharing
- re-using products (where possible)
- recycling, minimising waste produced
GSH works with many of our clients to advise on and implement these changes. Although some of these methods involve finance, others are easily (and cheaply) introduced. Your carbon footprint is a measure of your current emissions based on current levels of consumption. Therefore, anything you can do to reduce consumption (and in turn emissions) will also save you money. Many organisations set themselves targets, to reduce carbon emissions by a specified amount each year, ensuring continuous improvement, as well as providing long-term cost savings. They can also incorporate this into their CSR and sustainability policies, and use it for marketing themselves as a sustainable, environmentally friendly organisation.
GSH can support your organisation in measuring your carbon footprint and implementing changes that will reduce emissions. This will help save you money, reduce inefficiencies, provides a great marketing opportunity and helps mitigate climate change: so, what are you waiting for?
- IPCC (2018). https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/2/2018/07/sr15_headline_statements.pdf
- Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (2019): 2018 UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Provisional Figures https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/790626/2018-provisional-emissions-statistics-report.pdf
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (2019): Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions